RED BANK – Before Tuesday’s game against Red Bank Catholic, Colts Neck junior shortstop Tim Cavrak had not hit a home run since Little League, but when he finally cleared the fence for the first time as a high school player against the last unbeaten team left in the Shore Conference, there was nothing little about it.

Cavrak hit a tie-breaking home run in the top of the fifth inning and the Cougars – ranked No. 5 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10 - rallied to hand the No. 4 Caseys their first loss of the season, 7-4, and move into sole possession of first place in Shore Conference Class B North.

Tim Cavrak hit the go-ahead home run in the fifth to help Colts Neck top Red Bank Catholic on Tuesday. (Photo by Matt Manley)

The solo home run by Cavrak was one of two game-changing hits by Colts Neck, and both were extra-base hits from unlikely sources. An inning earlier, junior left fielder and No. 9 hitter Andre Conforti delivered a game-tying, bases-clearing triple with two out in the fourth inning to pull Colts Neck even with the Caseys, 4-4.

“From the first day of the season, coach (Mike Yorke) just told us to relax,” said Cavrak, who along with Conforti is a first-year starter. “That’s allowed us to go out and play our game without worrying about anything other than what we need to do to help the team.”

Red Bank Catholic carried a 4-1 lead into the top of the fourth inning thanks to an error in the bottom of the third that enabled an extra run to score during a two-run inning. Second baseman Sam DeVitis, who finished 2-for-2 and knocked in a run with an RBI single in the seventh, misplayed a potential double-play ground ball that allowed runners to reach second and third with one out. Caseys sophomore Aaron Ahn then smoked a two-run double to deep center field.

Just as an error opened the door to the Red Bank Catholic third, it also did the same for Colts Neck in the fourth. Ahn gathered a difficult hop at third base off the bat of Colts Neck third baseman Jordan Gonzalez, but his throw was off the mark, allowing Gonzalez to reach to lead off the inning.

Red Bank Catholic starter Jack Ipsen recorded a key strikeout on a 3-2 offering with the bases loaded for the second out of the inning, leaving the inning up to Conforti out of the last spot in the batting order. After looking at a strike, the junior lined a fastball directly over the head of RBC right fielder Tom Merlo, a slicing shot that twisted Merlo around before clearing the senior outfielder’s reach and rolling to the fence.

“With two out and the bases loaded, I was just looking for something to drive up the middle,” Conforti said. “Luckily, I was able to get a ball away and poke it over the right fielder’s head.”

“I was glad to see Andrew come up in that spot because he can hit the fastball,” Yorke said. “(Ipsen) had gone away from his breaking ball early in the game, and he was looking to get outs with the fastball and with the number nine hitter up and nowhere to put him, you had to go up there expecting to see the fastball.”

After Colts Neck senior left-handed starter Mario Ferraioli pitched a 1-2-3 inning with the aid of a pickoff, Cavrak led off the fifth looking to start a rally for Colts Neck’s top run producers behind him in the order. He fell behind 0-2 after drilling a fastball from Ipsen down the left-field line well into foul territory and when he got a similar pitch on an 0-2 offering, he made sure to keep it fair this time.

“I didn’t really know what to expect after hitting that ball foul,” Cavrak said. “I just wanted to be ready to react and when I saw it was a fastball inside, I was able to react quickly and stay inside the ball to keep it fair.”

Colts Neck added one more run after Gonzalez hit a ground-rule double and scored on a wild pitch.

Ferraioli navigated through the bottom of the fifth to complete his day at 110 pitches and then handed the ball off to senior left-hander Chris Murphy, who pitched scoreless sixth and seventh innings to nail down the save. Murphy lost command of the strike zone late in the seventh, but picked off Mike Ianelli at first base to end the game with Ahn in the batter’s box and a 3-0 count on him.

Cavrak finished 2-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI, while DeVitis was 2-for-2 with a run scored and an RBI.

Ferraioli surrendered two earned runs on six hits while walking two and striking out six to improve to 4-0. Murphy allowed a hit and a walk over the final two frames while striking out three.

“He is very competitive, as competitive as anyone on the team,” Yorke said of Ferraioli. “He’s a bulldog out on the mound and he’s going to fight and scratch and claw while he’s out there. There’s a reason he’s 4-0.”

Red Bank Catholic took the lead in the bottom of the first on an RBI single by Merlo and an RBI triple by junior Doug Facendo to put the Caseys ahead, 2-1.  Colts Neck scored first when Mike Antico led off the game with a walk, stole second, moved to third on a single by Cavrak and scored on a sacrifice fly to left by senior first baseman Tyler Kapuscinski.

Junior shortstop Evan Madigan was 2-for-3 with a double and a run scored out of the leadoff spot for RBC. Facendo finished 2-for-4 with an RBI, while Ahn was 1-for-2 and Merlo 2-for-4 with a run scored.

Tuesday’s win comes on the heels of Colts Neck’s first loss of the season, which came at the hands of Brick Memorial on Saturday. The Mustangs entered the game 0-6 within their Class A South division, but jumped out to a 5-0 lead and held on to beat the Cougars.

“We’ve been struggling hitting the ball,” Cavrak said. “Today was a lot better, obviously. This win gives us a lot of confidence, especially since we’re still undefeated in the division.”

Colts Neck and Red Bank Catholic will both continue their pivotal Class B North weeks against Ocean, with Colts Neck also set to take on Neptune in division play and Middletown South in the Monmouth County Tournament round of 16 prior to meeting the Spartans on Friday.

“We wanted to split the game (between Ferraioli and Murphy),” Yorke said. “We’ve got a big few days coming up, but we wanted to make sure we got today if we could. We’d like to be able to keep guys ready, but with four games in a row, it’s going to be tough.”

 

Box Score

Colts Neck 7, Red Bank Catholic 4

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

R

H

E

Colts Neck (9-1, 6-0)

1

0

0

3

2

0

1

7

10

1

Red Bank Catholic (7-1, 5-1)

2

0

2

0

0

0

0

4

7

1

 

Colts Neck

AB

R

H

RBI

BB

SO

Mike Antico, CF

3

1

0

0

1

1

Tim Cavrak, SS

3

1

2

1

0

1

Tyler Kapuscinski, 1B

3

1

1

1

0

0

Jordan Gonzalez, 3B

3

2

1

0

0

0

Tyler Kay, RF

4

0

2

0

0

1

Sam DeVitis, 2B

2

1

2

1

1

0

Jeremy Slad, C

2

0

1

0

1

0

--Nick Umbro, CR

0

1

0

0

0

0

Mario Ferraioli, P

3

0

0

0

0

3

--Chris Murphy, P

1

0

0

0

0

1

Andrew Conforti, LF

3

0

1

3

0

1

Totals

27

7

10

6

2

8

2B: Gonzalez
3B: Conforti
HR: Cavrak (4th inning, none on, none out)
SF: Kapuscinski
SAC: Gonzalez
GIDP: Kapuscinski
SB: Antico
CS: Kay

Red Bank Catholic

AB

R

H

RBI

BB

SO

Evan Madigan, SS

3

1

2

0

0

1

Chris Bender, LF

3

0

0

0

0

1

Tom Merlo, RF

4

1

2

1

0

2

Doug Facendo, C

4

0

2

1

0

1

--Joe Luff, CR

0

1

0

0

0

0

Mike Ianelli, DH

2

1

0

0

2

1

Aaron Ahn, 3B

2

0

1

2

1

1

Mike Spinelli, 2B

3

0

0

0

0

1

Anthony DeRosa, 1B

2

0

0

0

0

1

Dom Caraballo, CF

1

0

0

0

1

0

--Suli Abas, PH

1

0

0

0

0

1

Totals

25

4

7

4

4

10

2B: Madigan, Ahn
3B: Facendo
SAC: Bender
CS: Luff, Caraballo
Picked Off: Ianelli

Colts Neck

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

HR

Mario Ferraioli (W, 4-0)

5

7

4

3

3

7

0

Chris Murphy (S)

2

1

0

0

1

3

0

 

Red Bank Catholic

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

HR

Jack Ipsen (L, 2-1)

4.1

7

6

3

3

5

1

John Poccia

1.2

0

0

0

0

2

0

Eric Klimowicz

1

3

1

1

0

1

0

 

HBP: Cavrak (by Ipsen), DeVitis (by Ipsen), Madigan (by Ferraioli), DeRosa (by Ferraioli)
Pitches-Strikes: Ferraioli 110-66, Murphy 30-15, Ipsen 90-58, Poccia 18-12, Klimowicz 16-12
Groundouts-Flyouts: Ferraioli 4-1, Murphy 2-0, Ipsen 2-4, Poccia 1-2, Klimowicz 2-0